Sunday, May 7, 2017

I bore you on eagles' wings

Evening Praise

Welcome and Call to Worship

408 I come with joy

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Exodus 19:1-9

At the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’

 So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.’





Psalm 103 – the Congregation

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

The Lord works vindication
   and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

He will not always accuse,
   nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
   nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
   so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
   so far he removes our transgressions from us.


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

As a father has compassion for his children,
   so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
   he remembers that we are dust.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
   and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
   on those who fear him,
   and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
   and remember to do his commandments.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
   and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
   his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works,
   in all places of his dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.

1 Peter 1:3-9 and 2:9-10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God
through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice,
even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith
—being more precious than gold that, though perishable,
is tested by fire—
may be found to result in praise and glory and honour
when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Although you have not seen him, you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him
and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the outcome of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God’s own people,
in order that you may proclaim
the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness
into his marvellous light.

Once you were not a people,
   but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
   but now you have received mercy.


38 Praise my soul the king of heaven

I bore you on eagles’ wings

It’s been great to share our art exhibition again this year. If you haven’t been round to look at the pictures already then do make sure you don’t miss the opportunity!

In the corridors the U3A class have shared paintings on the theme of wings. I was talking to one of the ladies about her picture only this week. It’s a small painting in a box frame to the left as you start the exhibition in the cross corridor.

It’s actually a painting of a painting.

She explained that she belongs to St Nicholas’ church and each year someone from the church family is invited to paint a design on the paschal candle. Lit for the first time on Easter Sunday it then stands in the church for the rest of the year and is lit at services and on special occasions.

This year she had painted the candle – hard to paint on a cylinder and on wax. You have to wipe it down with white spirit she explained and then you can paint on it with Acrylics.

She had chosen to paint a very simple dove of peace and then to paint the letters of the word Peace down the candle.

Having completed the candle that is now in use through the year she then painted a painting of the painting.

And that is in our corridor.

Peace – a simple message as the light of the risen Christ comes into our world.

We took the opportunity on election day to open the doors of the church as Jacqui who has shared her pictures in church with us sat in church to look after them. It was great to see people having a look into the church.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have someone in church through the day on the day of the election – welcoming people into church, and simply being in church in quiet prayer.

With the work the youngsters have done, an eagle in flight that Judi has shared from Moffatt, my eye has fallen again and again on the installation the youngsters did with Mary.

If you haven’t already, have a look at some of those wonderful texts that speak of wings. You are invited to reflect on those verses and then put your name on a feather and add it to the painting under the wings if you feel in need of the shelter of the God who cares for us ceaselessly or on the rising wing if you feel you are rising up with eagles.

Is it an invitation or a statement.

I want to pick out four thoughts from Exodus 19 – a reading that sets the scene for some of the readings this week from Fresh from the Word.

I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

40 years ago when we moved to Harden just outside Bradford we got to know the Dales Minister who was based in Grassington but toured the Congregational Churches of the Yorkshire Dales. George Curry was a wonderful character who had in his younger days served in mission work among the Inuit peoples of Canada. He had a love of the wild and rugged places and especiall the wild and rugged places of the Isle of Skey. He would go there each year with his camera in the days before digital photography and take the most wonderful black and white photographs of eagles.

The most majestic of birds they soar high above the most rugged and wildest terrain and have a strength that has moved countless generations.

This is not an invitation.

This is not a promise for the future.

This is a reminder of the God who has been in our lives to restore and to refresh and to renew.

I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Our gathering around the Lord’s Table to share in the Lord’s Supper is a time of remembering. What is it we remember? The night on which Jesus was betrayed – yes indeed and his body broken for us and his blood shed for us.

But more than that let us remember the way God has been in our lives in the past that is behind us. Those moments when God bore us on eagles’ wings and brought us to himself.

May be a time of recovery after illness, a time of comfort after sorrow, a time of peace after distress.

Let’s bring to mind those moments when God bore us on eagles’ wings and brought us to himself.

God brings us to himself for a purpose – he gives us care and love and peace and blessing not just for ourselves but so that that can make a difference to other people.

That leads me to my second phrase – that we need to hold on to here in this place around this table as we gather together in his name.

you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

What should I call you? It’s a question people often ask.  And it was asked of me again this week. They call me ‘the minister’ of the church, I said, but I answer to lots of other things as well, most of them polite!

Are you a priest? Is a question I am also asked. And this time I am a bit more careful.  It would be easy to say, no I am not a priest: we don’t set people aside to be priests in our way of being church. Our way of being church is rooted in the Bible and in the New Testament the word ‘priest’ is not used of a particular role in the church.

Instead Peter picks up on this verse from Exodus and he reminds us that we are all, everyone of us who follows in the footsteps of Jesus, we are all called to be a priestly kingdom.  It’s often described as the priesthood of all believers.

A priest is a bridge builder – who brings God’s presence into people’s lives and brings people into God’s presence – a priest brings the blessing of God’s forgiving love from God to people and brings people into the presence of God in his wonderfully rich forgiving love.

And that’s our task. Each one of us

We are be a priestly kingdom – we seek to bring the good of God into the life of the world around us.

In small ways, in big ways, in all that we do.

Some task!

That takes some commitment.

And that’s what we mark here at this table as well.

What binds us together is the new covenant that is in Christ’s blood. This is a covenant meal, a celebration in which we delight in the covenant God makes with us.

A covenant is a two way thing – it is an agreement, a partnership, a relationship between us and between God and us too.

So this is the commitment we are called upon to make – the commitment the people of God made long ago.

The third of the phrases that caught my eye in this passage.

The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’

That’s our commitment – what is it the Lord has spoken? Read on to Exodus 20 and you come to the 10 commandments.

They are summed up by Jesus in the two great commandments.

This is what God has spoken, this is what we are called to do.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 

 You shall love your neighbour as yourself

It was at the table that Jesus shared a new commandment

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

That’s the word God has spoken. That’s what we must do. In pastoral care through our church family, at work, at home, with family, with neighbours – with those it’s hard to get on with.

This is what God has spoken. This is what we are called to do.

I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’

Do you find things scary?

I do!

Though over the years I have forced myself to go on the ghost train in a fun fair.

Do you thind things scary?

The future is a scary place.

There are so many uncertainties in our world.

There are so many uncertainties in our own personal lives.

There are so many uncertainties.

So what is certain?

When he came into Jerusalem the fine buildings of the city looked certain – but Jesus knew not a stone would be left on another.

What is certain?

Heaven and earth will pass away …

Here around the table we are together in the presence of Christ remembering his body broken his blood shed for us. But we are also very much in the present – living now – in the presence of the Christ who is with us.

But we also look forward.

We look to a heavenly banquet – there are those words that I quote so often from the archaic language of the AV

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

It hangs in the air and has a mystery about it.

But one thing is sure Christ Jesus will come to take us to be with him in the glory of God’s presence.

It was at the table he said those most wonderful of words.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God, believe also in me. 
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places.
If it were not so,
would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
so that where I am, there you may be also. 

That’s the promise in the final set of words from Exodus 16 I want to share this evening.

I am going to come to you

That’s the certainty we hold on to!

Let’s look back and give thanks

I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Let’s share the blessing of God’s forgiving love with all around us

you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

Let’s commit ourselves to love God, to love our neighbor

‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’

And let’s be sure as we hear again the word of God in the words of Jesus

I am going to come to you

… to restore and renew to be with you forever.

504 Church of God

Prayers of Concern

Offering and Dedication

399 Come, risen Lord

The Lord’s Supper

Communion Offering &
Dedication

611 Lord, now let your servant

Words of Blessing



The Journey Goes On

Text of the Week: “Those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.” Exodus 16:18.

Welcome to our services today and a special welcome to any worshipping with us for the first time. Where has your journey brought you to today? Where’s your journey taking you from today? What do you need for the journey?  Those are questions our readings from Fresh From the Word prompt us to ask in the next couple of weeks. They take us to the book of Exodus and the long, winding way through the wilderness the people of Israel took on their journey to the promised land. Today they are on the verge of despair as they don’t have what they need for the journey. It is at that moment that God provides. Not too much. Not too little. Simply what they need. On the journey that lies ahead God will provide. Not too much. Not too little. Simply what we need.   Today it’s great to welcome back to Highbury members of the Livingstone Fellowship, the youth group that flourished at Highbury from 1954 to 1971. For the journey the prayer they made their own is a prayer we each can share: Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest; to give, and not to count the cost; to fight, and not to heed the wounds; to toil, and not to seek for rest; to labour, and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do Thy will. Amen. Next week sees the start of Christian Aid Week – do see Iain and Laura MacLeod or Louise Middleton if you can help with the collection. Next Sunday we are having a Big Brekkie – a Christian Aid Breakfast served from 9-15 – don’t miss it!


7 Holy, holy, holy

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Who’s the greatest?

You would have thought they would have learned by now! But they hadn’t – they were forever doing it. They argued!

Do you ever argue?

They argued about who the greatest was – they just didn’t get it!

Reading: Matthew 18:1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, 

“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
So Jesus called a child, made him stand in front of them, and said,

“I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.”

In God’s eyes everyone is just as important as everyone else. All of us count.

Together as a fellowship where everyone is just as important as everyone else we all matter – it’s together that we can draw on the light of God’s presence in Christ, the strength of God’s power in the Holy Spirit. We are encircled with the love of God –

The sensor stick – lights up as we link hands – break the link and the light goes out!

Link hands around the table – around the church.

Song: the Family of God

1          We're all part of the family of God
            Living in God's wide world,
            Linking hands in the family of God,
            Living in God's wide world.
            God, you're my strong father
            Yet gentle as a mother,
            Jesus, I'm your sister,
            Jesus, I'm your brother.

2          We're all part of the family of God
            Caring for God's wide world,
            Linking hands in the family of God,
            Caring for God's wide world.
            Chorus

3          We're all part of the family of God
            Working in God's wide world,
            Linking hands in the family of God,
            Working in God's wide world.
            Chorus

4          We're all part of the family of God
            Loving in God's wide world,
            Linking hands in the family of God,
            Loving in God's wide world.
            Chorus

Heather Johnston (born 1943)
© 1999 Stainer & Bell Ltd
Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 3540

Activities for all over 3

The Journey goes on

Tristram Shandy is one of the very first novels in the English language. Its zany off-beat humour is the humour of the Goon Show, Do Not Adjust Your Set, Monty Python’s Flying Circus all rolled into one.  There’s a moment when Tristram Shandy who is telling his life’s story reflects on the journey he’s taken so far.

It has not been a straightforward journey by any means.

He plots it on the page –

How would you plot your life’s journey?

Where has your journey brought you to today?

How has your journey brought you to this place on this day at this time?

A time to share with each other and with us all

We are sharing in reading the Bible using Fresh from the Word . Today we begin three weeks of readings in the Book of Exodus. It’s a book of journeying and of a long winding way through the wilderness.

It’s a journey with a beginning a middle and an end.

The journey begins in the presence of God. Faced with the horrors of all that is happening to his people Moses does something which fills him with horror and forces him to flee. His journeying takes him far from the land he grew up in, far from his own people.  But it is there in the most unexpected of places that he has a sense of the presence of God with him.
Still, in the presence of God, he stands on holy ground and in a bush that burns and yet is not consumed with fire, he feels the presence of God calling him - there’s a real sense of mystery in the presence of the God whose name is filled with mystery. It is a name that cannot be uttered.  It is a name that defies understanding. I am who I am – I will be who I will be – I am – this is nothing less than the God who is present at every moment of the journey.

And so Moses returns to speak out for his people against the horrors of the world they find themselves trapped by. And that world will not listen.

Then it is we reach the mid-point of the story.

And in the middle of the story once again we encounter the presence of God.

So strong is that sense of the presence of God with them in the Passover meal the people celebrate on the night before their deliverance from the horrors of their world that they vowed ever after to share in a Passover meal to remember that moment.

That moment of the presence of God with them.

For them the journey was just beginning but it would take them to the Promised land and again to the presence of God with them.

Whatever it is that brings us to this place on this date and at this time, may it be in some way the presence of God that meets us here. What is this God like? The God who meets us here is the God who is the God of Love – it is the God who in Christ values each one of us, the God for whom each one of us matters the world.

In Jesus we meet with the God who is love.









480 Lord God, your love has called us here 1,3,5  Tune: Mozart

1          Great God, your love has called us here,
            as we, by love for love were made.
            Your living likeness still we bear,
            though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.
            We come, with all our heart and mind
            your call to hear, your love to find.

2          We come with self-inflicted pains
            of broken trust and chosen wrong,
            half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
            by social forces swept along,
            by powers and systems close confined,
            yet seeking hope for humankind.

3          Great God, in Christ you call our name
            and then receive us as your own,
            not through some merit, right or claim,
            but by your gracious love alone.
            We strain to glimpse your mercy seat
            and find you kneeling at our feet.

4          Then take the towel, and break the bread,
            and humble us, and call us friends.
            Suffer and serve till all are fed,
            and show how grandly love intends
            to work till all creation sings,
            to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

5          Great God, in Christ you set us free
            your life to live, your joy to share.
            Give us your Spirit's liberty
            to turn from guilt and dull despair
            and offer all that faith can do
            while love is making all things new.

Brian Wren (born 1936)        
© 1975, 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd

Where’s your journey taking you from today? What do you need for the journey?  Those are questions our readings from Fresh From the Word prompt us to ask in the next couple of weeks. They take us to the book of Exodus and the long, winding way through the wilderness the people of Israel took on their journey to the promised land.

Today they are on the verge of despair as they don’t have what they need for the journey.

It is at that moment that God provides. Not too much. Not too little. Simply what they need. On the journey that lies ahead God will provide. Not too much. Not too little. Simply what we need.

Exodus 16:1-18

The presence of God made real in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The God who provides that daily bread.

Not too much, not too little.

The prayer we are invited to pray asks just that.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Not too much, not too little.

Simply what we need.

So much in our society in the journeys we take has to do with getting on – we measure all sorts of things by success – success in our own lives, success of our children, our grandchildren too.

Maybe the wonder of this moment is that this is the moment that counts – and in this moment the presence of God meets the need we have.

May that be our prayer for each moment that lies ahead of us.

How important that we then seek to meet the needs of others around us whatever their need may be. Next Sunday marks the start of the 60th Christian Aid Week – Christian Aid had started twenty years ealier just after the second world war as a response to a Refugee Crisis such as the world had not seen before. In the middle of a refugee crisis of those proportions – maybe it is salutary for us to seek to share what is needed just as we receive what we need too.

It is good to welcome back to Highbury members of the Livingstone Fellowship. That was the youth group that met here at Highbury from 1954 to 1971. Something has drawn people back – and still does.

Maybe things were shared, things happened, lives were formed, faith was found at that time.

Last week we had our Gift Day – it is one of those special moments in our church calendar when we ask people to give a special gift. We have a mission project to employ a children’s worker. Andrea introduced our service last week, spoke of the focus of her work on outreach through things like Messy Church and Film Club – sharing something of that presence of God, the God who in Jesus is love, with the next generation. It is so important to support our children and our young people – so they come to know the difference that love of God can make in their lives and in their futures – so that the presence of God is there on the journey.


525 Lead us heavenly Father

The LF Prayer

Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest;
to give, and not to count the cost;
to fight, and not to heed the wounds;
to toil, and not to seek for rest;
to labour, and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do Thy will. Amen.


Prayers of Concern

528 Guide me O thou great Jehovah

Words of Blessing



So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light